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How to make fat cakes for birds

You will need

  • Lard or suet bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • String or twine
  • Old yoghurt pots
  • Any of the following: wild bird seed, currants, sultanas, oats, bread and cake crumbs, grated cheese and peanuts.
Do it: November - March
Takes just: 20 minutes


Birds love fat cakes and at this time of year they're just what they need to give them energy and keep warm. But the feeding balls needn't be shop bought; you can use all sorts of kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats. Just mix with melted lard or suet and set in the fridge overnight.

Avoid using turkey fat, which doesn't set like suet and lard, and can coat birds' feathers, preventing them from being able to fly. It can also spread disease.

Discover more ways to help your garden wildlife by creating dead wood habitats and with our top 4 jobs for wildlife in autumn.

How to do it


The best ratio for this recipe is one part fat to two parts dry mixture. Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.


Melt some lard or suet in a pan and add the dry mix. Stir well until the fat has all been absorbed and the mixture sticks together.


Make a hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot and thread through a length of twine or string, then pack the pot with your warm fat mixture.


Place in the fridge overnight to set, then cut through and peel away the pot. Tie a big knot at one end of the twine to secure the cake.


Hang the cake in a tree or shrub and wait for the birds to come and feast.

Our tip

Kitchen scraps are great to use in the fat cakes but don't use anything too salty. Never use salted peanuts or very salty bacon.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to make fat cakes for birds
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mudpack 24/11/2011 at 15:27

These tips are really good, and I will be trying them out in my garden.

osmotherly02 24/11/2011 at 15:28

how do i divide a large dahlia corm and can i grow them in large pots

seeker33 24/11/2011 at 15:28

1st class advice & information. Helps me do my bit for the environment.

glovesareon 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Won't the fat cake fall apart when the birds land on it? Will the squirrels help themselves to it?

mitch1872 24/11/2011 at 15:29

ooh i cant wait to make these i have a few robbins popping in and out of my garden and well as other birds and its so brilliant to see them from my kitchen window watching them i also have alot of sunflower seeds from my sunflowers which they tend to really enjoy and as i have so many i can add these to the cakes too And now that my grape vine has matured i can place there bird nest next to it so it adds cover for them and its just the right high for them as they dont like there nests too high

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